Unangax̂ (Aleut)

Carrying basket

  • Collected 1905
  • Wild rye grass, wool yarn, and silk ribbon
  • 10 5/8 × 10 5/8 in.

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Bequest of Frank C. and Clara G. Churchill; 46.17.9382

visibilityLook & Discuss

Although it is not possible to cultivate food in the Arctic, there are many types of edible plants. Indigenous people discovered roots, mosses, and shrubs, as well as seaweed and berries, which they collected in spring and summer to preserve. They made baskets like this one to gather herbs and plants, baskets with handles to gather berries, and baskets with holes to gather shellfish and seaweed.


Explore the object

This intricately woven gathering basket was made for sale. The artist wove it out of slender wild rye grass and decorated it with tufts of wool yarn and silk ribbon. The design suggests the flowers that grow throughout the Aleutian Islands in the summer.

Aleutian baskets are some of the most skillfully made baskets in the world. Some can have as many as 1,000 stitches per square inch and take over a year to weave. This rare art form is not practiced widely today because it requires knowledge, patience, and skill.

 learn more

In this video, Museum Specialist Dawn Biddeson discusses two objects, a basket and a ball, that once played important roles in the traditional subsistence lifestyle of the Arctic.

Compare the materials used in each region.

What do the materials tell us about the geography of each place?

Arctic & Subarctic: Food